CSUDH celebrated Homecoming 2022 on Saturday, Feb. 19, welcoming hundreds of Toro alumni and their families back to campus for a day of fun activities, reunions, and discovery. It was the first large-scale public event on campus since the resumption of in-person courses, and the first chance for many attendees to see all of the changes that have occurred on campus recently.
“I couldn’t be more excited and elated to welcome home all these Toro alums, many of whom have not seen the transformation of the campus over the years,” said CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham, who spoke at the event. “I’m thrilled to showcase not just the infrastructure changes, but to highlight the curriculum changes that we’ve put in place, to highlight the personnel changes and new faculty we’ve added, and the programmatic initiatives that we’ve got.
“To me, that is what inviting all these alumni home is about–telling them ‘Thank you for the legacy that you’ve helped create, and here’s what we have done in responsibly building on that legacy.’”
The day kicked off with a diamond doubleheader, as the Toro softball team took on Cal Poly Humboldt (sadly, they lost 7-2), and the baseball team defeated Marymount California 12-1. Campus tours were conducted all day long, as was an invitational esports tournament hosted by the CSUDH Esports Association that took place in the Innovation & Instruction (I&I) building’s large first-floor auditorium.
The North Lawn was the hub of the event, with plenty of food options, family-friendly games, and activities such as a rock climbing wall, mechanical bull, and bouncy slides. During the mid-day welcome ceremony, Parham was joined on stage for brief speeches by State Senator Steven Bradford (BA, ’85), Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Jonathan Molina Mancio, and AVP/Director of Athletic Dena Freeman-Patton, among others.
The guest of honor was CSUDH’s oldest living graduate, Winifred Carter (BA, ’97), who will turn 103 years old in a few months. She was joined by members of her family at Parham’s table, and was delighted by all of the excitement and energy she felt on campus.
“It is quite an honor at my age to be here on campus and to be honored in the way they’ve honored me, I just feel so special,” said Carter. “The new buildings are just fantastic. They’re so beautiful, it’s just unbelievable. When I left here, it was nothing like this. I’ve been gone since 1997, and to come back and see it looking like this is amazing. It’s a beautiful campus. I’m just overwhelmed, really.”
Other alums shared Carter’s happiness at the campus’s new look. “When I first walked on campus, I thought, ‘Where’s my school?’,” laughed Deborah Weathersby (BA, ’73). “The buildings where I went to class were all gone! But what a magnificent (I&I) structure is here now! It’s really exciting. I keep up with what’s going on, and it was just wonderful to be here today to actually see the new buildings in person. To witness the growth and development and diversity is outstanding.”
Toro alum Alberto Valenzuela (BA, ’99) agreed. “I just took a tour and I’m amazed at all the stuff that’s going on here. It used to look like a warehouse, and now it looks like a college campus. Dominguez Hills is up and coming. A lot of kids are going to want to come here when they see all this.”
Valenzuela was impressed with the esports demonstrations, too. “When I walked in, I was like, ‘What?’ It’s really fantastic that DH is building all of these programs for the students, it will really make a difference.”
Those thoughts were echoed by Toro graduate Raymund Diaz (BA, ’02). “It’s great to see the growth continuing to happen, and not just new buildings, but modern programs and amenities that can reach today’s young people. Having a championship esports team is huge! I’m happy to see our university staying on top of the trends, staying current, and keeping up with the times.”
“It’s a whole different campus from when I was here,” he continued. “It’s amazing. There are so many places to study, to work, and to live now. I was part of the ASI, and we got things rolling with the new student union and the stadium, so I’m happy to see that what we started is continuing to grow–maybe my son will be able to enjoy it one day.”
It wasn’t just alumni who enjoyed the day–lots of current students and their families were also in attendance. Current Toro women’s basketball player Kelsey Bell was there showing off the campus to her parents. “It’s great to see everybody back on campus,” she said. “This is my second semester here, so this is the first time I’ve been able to go to in-person classes and mingle with everybody and be a part of the Toro family.”
The day concluded with a basketball doubleheader in the Torodome, and Bell was excited to have so many people on campus. “We need all the support we can get. We love to see everybody out there supporting us,” she said. The added support seemed to help, as the women’s team defeated San Francisco State 70-61 and the men’s team also beat SF State 67-56.
Summing up the event, Director of Alumni Relations Felicia Hernandez said, “Homecoming 2022 was a historic day. It was exciting to see alumni return to campus and witness its transformation. Alumni came from near and far–it was meaningful to witness alumni connect with current students and watch the authenticity of alumni wanting to support students during their college journey. The energy on campus was truly captivating and I look forward to this new tradition growing for years to come.”
For additional photos, visit our CSUDH Homecoming album.